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Engineer hits war relic six-foot under

PUBLISHED: 22:36 21 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:24 03 March 2010

AN engineer who went to dig up an elder bush at the bottom of his garden nearly found himself falling into a six-foot deep First World War air raid shelter.

AN engineer who went to dig up an elder bush at the bottom of his garden nearly found himself falling into a six-foot deep First World War air raid shelter.

Although Peter Taylor's family had lived in the property since it was built in 1915, he had no idea of the existence of the shelter, which was constructed when German Zeppelins were threatening the skies of East Anglia.

Mr Taylor, 61, said he was mystified when he suddenly found his spade was facing no resistance as he plunged it into the ground at the back of his home in Burroughs Piece Road, Sudbury, which borders the grounds of St Leonard's Hospital.

The self-employed engineer called in Suffolk County Council's archaeological unit, health authority and environment department officials to investigate the hole, which is surrounded by walls, but no longer has a roof.

He said: "It was lucky no one had fallen into it before, because the roof had disintegrated with vegetation left covering the area. The health authority is arranging to bring in a digger to excavate the area properly and have it filled in. Preliminary investigations show the shelter must have been about 10ft square."

Mr Taylor said the house was built by local firm Geo Grimwood for the nearby Reddell's factory where his late father Arthur, who had moved from Colchester, was a key worker helping with the war effort

"I would imagine the builders decided to dig out the shelter because at the time there were very few surrounding properties. The site was on high, exposed land, and the builders might have thought they would be targeted by air ship attacks.

"They had good grounds for their fears because on March 31, 1916, Sudbury was one of the towns in East Anglia hit by a fleet of Zeppelins," he said.

"One dropped about 30 bombs on the town, including on nearby East Street, Constitution Hill and Newmans Road. In East Street two homes were partly demolished and three people killed."

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